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[Free] Indian Legion ('Azad Hind') German pith-helmet shield
Item code: 0010008

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Description

German pith-helmet shield of the [Free] Indian Legion ("Azad Hind" - Free India). The decal sports a diagonally-striped tricolor of orange-white-green (from top left to bottom right). On the reverse side the badge has 3 thick, flat and bent-down 'pins' with slanted, sharpened ends, functioning as the hooks which would have held the badge in place on the helmet.

The reverse side shows the imprint lines shield's borders and of the sections which on the reverse side form the borders of the tricolor pattern. The reverse is also maker-maked "K.W. 41" in raised letters (see close-up in link to pictures). The badge is physically in excellent condition, displaying no physical damage. However most of the color is missing, and to judge by the silver-gold-black discoloration of the surface, it seems to be the result of water damage and erosion.

Though it may be tempting to suggest that this piece is actually Italian, this conclusion would be incorrect because a) the Italian colors are green, white and red, and b) the Italian shield on helmets and armshields of that period are in the order: green-white-red (see Littlejohn, Foreign Legions Vol. 2, pg. 242-243).

The "Free Indian Legion" was founded in 1942 by Subhas Chandra Bose and consisted of Indian volunteers and prisoners of war; in June 1942 it was designated the Indisches Infanterie Regiment 950 / Legion Freies Indien of the German Army. It was initially deployed to the Netherlands and then to northern France in 1943. In August 1944, numbering around 2,300 men, it was transferred to the Waffen-SS and re-titled the "Indische Freiwilligen Legion der Waffen SS". Around the end of March 1945 the Legion was captured by Allied forces.

During the course of its existence the unit was issued with the lightweight tropical German uniform (including all the associated tropical-style insignia on it), and wore a mixture of turbans, steel helmets (some, apparently with a shield-decal of the Indian national colors), and probably therefore also the tropical pith helmet from which comes this insignia. Rare.

מילות מפתח: מיליטריה מיליטאריה סמלי סמל כובע ברט סיכות סיכה יחידות יחידה שירות זרוע אגף חיל לגיון גדוד מתנדבים זרים וופן אס-אס צבא גרמניה רייך שלישי